The next day started early. We had a lot of sightseeing to do. After going to bed at around 3 a.m. watching a movie on a serial killer with Andrea, having to be up by 9 seemed crazy but I know Harry knows what he’s doing. We started at Wat Po and saw the Reclining Buddha. The building was white but had gold and colorful detailing. We passed by visitors looking to earn merit, praying, adding gold foil to statues and making donations to these revered figures. I’ve never been very religious. I haven’t been to church in about 2 years and before then I hadn’t gone since I was 8. Within my Cuban family, I learned to believe in God but because my family mostly practices Santeria, I grew up believing in other gods and spirits and practicing certain rituals because my parents and grandparents told me to. But I’ve never been very religious, so seeing these visitors believing in a higher power and putting their faith and hope into someone or something else was commendable and admirable. It almost made me want to believe too. Let me elaborate. I don’t believe in one religion; I believe in many. There’s not one religion that I’ve totally agreed with but many. There’s something in each of them that I admire, understand and believe in. It made me realize that no matter what we think, what our opinions are on a certain religion, these values are important to someone or some people and because it’s important to them, it’s imperative to sympathize and be tolerant.
We then went to see the Reclining Buddha. I was in utter amazement walking in. We had to take our shoes off and make sure our shoulders and knees were covered. This was a little uncomfortable at times because the floor was wet and dirty because of the rain and walking barefoot made me feel like I’d get fungus or something. Having to be moderately dressed also meant that the heat would be a little less than bearable because air conditioning isn’t readily available at the temples. Nonetheless, the Reclining Buddha was a sight to see. It was beautiful and seemed like it was made of gold. Thailand seems to be very fond of gold, colors and details kinda like myself.
Next, we visited the the Grand Palace. I felt like royalty stepping in to this location. Everything was gold or brightly painted. The decorations were impressive. It really was grand. We were able to take lots of pictures that all came out amazing as the ambiance and the background of each picture was beautiful. Being here, has given me a love for photography. I wanted to get a camera before coming here but didn’t have the funds to and I regret it. Everything is so beautiful and worth capturing. I think once I get back I’m going to start working on my photography and videography a lot more, in unison with my love for broadcast journalism.
Within the Grand Palace, the Emerald Buddha was kept. Hundreds of people came from near and far to see it. It was beautiful being completely made of emerald but tiny and being placed a top of this enormous shrine made it look even tinier. None the less, people almost fought to get as close to it as possible. I found it odd that no pictures were allowed. I tried being a rebel and attempting to take one and my phone was almost smacked out of my hand.
We crossed the street (this isn’t as easy as it seems in Thailand with the way people drive here) and ended up at this nice restaurant but food was still very affordable about $10 for a meal. One thing I was nervous about going abroad was food. I’m pretty picky when it comes to food and eating anything besides chicken, beef and sea food is a bit out of my comfort zone but being abroad I wanted to step outside that comfort zone and try new things so that I may grow and expand my palette. I had the glass noodle pad Thai. Glass noodles are these clear noodles, which looked a little strange but overall, the dish was delicious. Andrea had pineapple curry rice and we shared. Surprisingly, I finished everything on my plate.
Jim Thompson’s house was simple but extravagant. Everything was made of wood and was nicely decorated. There were no doors or windows and no air conditioning and still, I could see myself living there. Seeing all the expensive silk merchandise made me ready to shop but I was looking for more reasonable prices. Everything was soo expensive.
We went back to the hotel and slept for what we said would be a couple hours and didn’t wake up until 1 a.m.
We met with two of our group mates and had a few beers, something to keep us cool in this humidity. We began walking around the neighborhood (I thought we were going to get mugged) and found this like nightclub district where there were a lot of Americans. We had a couple drinks and danced and returned to the hotel to sneak into the pool. It was cool getting to know our group mates outside of like an educational environment and realized each of us was more similar than I could’ve imagined.
Best part was the pool was perfect, not too cold or warm. After about 30 minutes, we decided to call it a night, as we wanted to work out early in the morning (but I’ve never been a fan of waking up early to do anything lol).
We napped for about 45 minutes. This brought back memories of peer advising at FIU where Drea and I stayed up all night and worked all day. Crazy times! It was hard getting out of bed but knowing that it was to work out made it all the worthwhile. We went to breakfast first. More food I was uncomfortable with. I decided to go for things that were familiar. I had an omelette, toast and fruit and decided to try this noodle soup and added rice to it just like mom would back at home. It was actually quite delicious! We then went to work out. The gym was this tiny little hotbox with air conditioning that didn’t even reach the entire room, a bathroom, weights, and a treadmill. We didn’t have much time before we had to be ready for another day of exploring. I went on the treadmill for a few, did some squats and crunches and called it a day.
Today, we visited the Ayutthaya District. We visited another temple with another immense Buddha sitting down almost welcoming you in. My favorite part of the day was the ruins or burial sites, it made for great pictures. It’s just breathtaking to see what humankind has created with our very own hands. I hope to be that great one day. Making something that people are inspired by and are in awe of. Harry mentioned elephants but unfortunately we didn’t get to ride them. This might be the thing I looking forward to most all trip (you don’t realize how much I love elephants)!
We visited a restaurant in that area and Drea and I ordered like these spicy sea food options. It was one of the most unbearable meals I’ve ever had and was really expensive for something that basically hurt my mouth every step of the way. I wish I would’ve asked if it was spicy.
It was time for a siesta. We went back to the hotel and woke up at 9. We keep saying we’re not going to sleep so long but between the jet lag, being in the sun all day and staying up late taking long naps is the only reason we’re still alive lol.
We woke up and went to the night market or we tried to. We got lost before being able to find it and not having wi-fi or access to our data makes things a lot harder. After about 30 minutes, we found our group mates and started shopping. I wanted to buy everything! I seriously think I have a problem. I bought a pair of sunglasses, some shorts and cute little bracelets. Paying in baht starts adding up, it seems like money runs out quicker that way and you don’t really get your money’s worth when you try to get your currency exchanged. I remember Harry saying that the prices they say are never the real prices. Once I say “no, no thank you,” EVERY single time they ask “how much” or how much I’m willing to pay for it until we compromise at a price. Thing is, once they bring down the price you have to take it because it’d be rude not to after they went out of their way to make the sale. I managed to get a lot of discounts that way, not paying full price for anything that night.
Drea, our new bff Paola or Pao Pao and I went back to our hotel room to leave our things and wanted to go back out but we ended up staying up all night watching movies, eating Cocoa Puffs, chit chatting and connecting with those back home including my mom. These are the kinds of nights I live for, those where bonds are made. Hearing my mom and little sister’s voice was probably one of the hardest things thus far . It’s hard for me to be away from home because of them and because I miss them so much. I teared up listening to a voice message from my little sister saying she loved and missed me. Although we’re 15 years a part, we couldn’t be any closer and being away from her is hard because she’s growing up so fast and I want to be around for all the special moments. I know I’m doing the right thing by being away. I’m immersing myself in another culture, getting to meet new people, getting to see the world like I always wanted to and learning more about myself in the process. This trip is going to change my life.
I stayed up till around 5 am before I was drooling on my pillow. It had been a long day and the next day , as Harry said we’d be off to Vietnam, so I’d need some energy to lug my huge bag and all the new things I was taking with me.